Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Are jellicle cats transgendered?

I adopted my cat in 1999 from a PetSmart in Germantown, Maryland. He was male then, but today at the CUPA Animal Care Clinic I was told he was female!

We have a very sweet "Man Friday" that has been with our family for 10 or 15 years. (Interesting side story - my father-in-law discovered this guy when he was 12 and peddling a bicycle delivering pickles. My father-in-law decided to pay for this guy's education provided he do odd jobs afterschool, but he also had to pay the guy's father just to let him go to school - Dickens would love this place. ) Man Friday now is officially a senior office boy and is very proud to possess a set of business cards, but he is also on call for domestic duties, such as driving me to unfamiliar places.

I asked Man Friday (heretofore to be called Joe) to drive me and my cat to the clinic, since I am spatially challenged, almost debilitatingly so. Unlike most drivers, Joe doesn't like to sit in the car, he likes to join me in my exploits since he is practically family. (My inner snob used to worry that when he accompanied me to places that people might think i was married to HIM - not that he is so undeserving of a girl with my fairness and US passport, but the working poor here are quite spindly and unattractive - not the stuff of gardener fantasies.)

The reason we were at this clinic was to get my cat's favorite Lion Cut - you guessed it, they shave all the fur except for around the neck (mane), the lower legs, and a bit on the tail. He suffers terribly from hairballs and, when his fur gets long, will pointedly puke up yummy globules in my normal haunts - desk chair, staircases, etc.

I warned Joe that he should leave the room, otherwise he will be covered with cat hair. He didn't seem to mind and went on to chat the whole time with the "barber" in Kannada. He was very interested in the whole place and the other patients - unabashedly peeking into the treatments rooms, and laughed when he saw that the animals were getting hot water baths (such an extravagance for a lower life form).

I noticed that while my cat's legs were being shaved, Joe and the barber seemed to be looking at my kitty's crotch and speculating. Joe asks me, "this is a boy cat, madam?" I said, 'yes, it's a boy cat!" "No, ma'am, this is a girl cat." I thought they might be confused because the cat was neutered and so no evidence of maleness was present.

These two were pretty interested in how much I paid for my cat. It was humbling to tell them that I spent between $50 - $75 (INR 3300 - half their monthly pay probably) to adopt the cat and try to convince them that it was CHEAP. They had trouble processing the concept of adopting an animal that someone had given up, and when they saw that my cat's front claws were no longer there I could feel the judgment. I kept telling them that the first family did that to him, it was done before I had him - but maybe they think I made up the first family.

I was worried that their misidentification of my cat as a female might lead to an ugly scene with the razor. I called for the doctor and tried to clarify things, but the doctor checked and agreed with the barber and Joe and showed me the part in question. It was definitely not a protruberance.

So now I am wrestling with my cat's newfound sexuality - or newfound previous sexuality... how will I get him/her back to the US if the US paperwork states that he is male and the Indian paperwork states the she is female? Does this explain the nipples?

One interesting bit is that the vet suggested i pay him 500 rupees for each rabies vaccination my cat had missed since coming to India (which is really 1, but he keeps saying 2) and that he will write it in my cat's vaccination card that he gave those doses at the appropriate times, even though he did not. I don't know... maybe he needs the money for tuitions?


Justin said...

Its quite interesting to know about the barber story.

Do check this out too new friends

Indie Mama said...

Oh goodness...! If I could stop giggling perhaps I could form a complete thought... I could complain on your behalf the next time I'm at Petco! = )

Natalie said...

How was transporting your cat to India? I've been really worried about putting my dog and cat on a plane for that long. Do they feed, water the animal while on the journey?